Finding out that there is a whole other leg to a journey after an already long trip is never good news. But what if the new phase of the trip includes much better scenery than you had in the first portion of the trip? This is how I feel when I tell people (usually younger patients) after they’ve successfully completed their stint with braces or adjusters on their teeth, now they need to wear a retainer at night. Oh, and can you do that for the rest of your life? Let me tell you, I get a variety of reactions. Not all of them are very happy.

The fact is your teeth, because of your DNA, want to be where they were. And for lots of reasons, if you don’t use a retainer after your braces, they are going to hear right back there where they were. There’s some great news!

Look, let’s say you just completed X number of months with braces on your teeth. You’ve gone to your appointments. You’ve endured adjustments and additional rubber bands and additional hardware. I know the last thing you want to hear is there is one more thing you need to do and you kind of have to do it and it’s really something you’ll do from here on out. I’ve heard the griping about it before. But wait. Before we get too stressed out, think about all you’ve accomplished. Want to throw it all away?

Let me ask you. Do you have any friends who have retainers? Sure. Have you ever seen adults who wear retainers and have for years? Maybe. Do you want to know what they have in common? They don’t care about wearing a retainer. If you’ve had an occasion to see someone put a retainer in before they go to sleep, you’ll notice they have the same feeling for putting a retainer in as putting on a coat when it’s cold outside. In an amazingly short time, you too will have that same habit. It easy.

Here’s something else you really need to think about. Dental work costs money. In some cases, either your parents or you or someone else paid for your straight teeth. If you are young, you might not know what kind of sacrifice was made to get your procedure done. Let me tell you that in some cases, the sacrifice was great. Someone believed your dental work was important enough to invest in. So really, you have two people you need to respect for their sacrifice. Put that retainer in to show respect to yourself for all your hard work. But also remember someone paid for it and whether it was you or someone else is not important. Don’t throw money away and undo bunches of hard work over something as simple as wearing a retainer.